3 Common Copyright Questions, Answered

Creative professionals and small business owners may have a working understanding of copyright protections. However, questions about obtaining, protecting, and enforcing your copyrights may arise, especially if you suspect that another party is infringing on your rights. Here is some information in response to the most common questions about copyright protection in Minnesota so you can move forward with greater clarity and confidence.

1. What Can Be Copyrighted?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright protects “original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.” Essentially, an original work or creation may be copyrighted to prevent infringing parties from profiting off of your work without your permission. Copyright is designed to protect originality and creativity, but the hurdle is not high. The Supreme Court has said all that is required is a “spark” or a “modicum” of creativity. However, copyright protection does not extend to facts, systems (such as the way a game is played), or methods of operation – though the way in which these things are expressed may qualify for copyright protection. Names, titles, slogans, and logos cannot be copyrighted, although they may become trademarks.

2. Can Unpublished Works Be Copyrighted?

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works. However, it’s important to understand the definition of “publication.” Publication refers to the distribution of copies or recordings of a specific work to the public through sale, rental, lease, lending, or other transfer of ownership. If you suspect someone is attempting to capitalize or profit from your work without your permission, you can take the necessary steps to enforce your rights—even if your work is unpublished.

3. How Can I Register and Enforce a Copyright?

Your creative works are copyrighted whether you register them or not. But if someone infringes your copyright, you won’t be able to sue them unless and until you have that registration.

Registering a copyright is a fairly straightforward process. First, you’ll need to visit the U.S. Copyright Office website, where you can find the necessary forms to complete and file online. Remember, you’ll need to submit a copy of the work along with your application and filing fee. Once approved, your copyright will generally last for the remainder of your life, plus an additional 70 years. Anonymous works may be copyright protected for 120 years after the work was first created.

If you have reason to believe that someone is infringing on your copyright, contact a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney right away to discuss your options for stopping the infringement and recovering any damages you’re owed.


Learn more about obtaining and enforcing your copyright in Minneapolis or St. Paul by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to speak with a trusted and friendly IP law attorney.

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